08 May 2024

Malaysian Consumer Sentiment Behaviour 2024: Online Preferences & Spending

In today's dynamic retail landscape, understanding consumer behaviour is crucial for businesses seeking to thrive. By analysing the consumer purchasing data in Q1 of 2024, we uncovered insights into what influences consumers' purchasing decisions and which products they are most likely to buy online.


This survey was conducted from 23rd February to 11th March 2024 using Vodus’ proprietary OMTOS online survey method that enables a survey audience sampling reach of 17 million Malaysians (53% of population) through a network of major online media platforms [1]. In total, Vodus has surveyed 19,697 respondents nationwide to gather data and insights that accurately represent the Malaysian consumer population.   

Purchase Behaviour 

Our 2024 consumer sentiment study has highlighted Malaysians' top concerns, with 31% showing worry about the current state of the economy, followed closely by 13% prioritising their family’s health and happiness [2]. Despite these concerns, Malaysians continue to spend, revealing intriguing patterns in their purchase behaviour and preferences. 

Chart 1: Categories Purchased (Overall vs Online) in the Past 6 Months 

In the six months prior to the survey, Malaysian consumers have prioritised their spending on essential items, with food and beverages accounting for 81%, personal care and hygiene products at 62%, and apparel/clothing comprising 52% of their purchases. These results align with expectations, underscoring the fundamental nature of these categories in everyday life. Moreover, the fact that these categories also top the list of online purchases highlights the growing preference for digital channels among Malaysian consumers. This trend reflects not only convenience but also a shift towards embracing e-commerce platforms for a wide range of everyday needs, from groceries to personal care items and fashion.  

By analysing the conversion rate from overall to online purchases, we can pinpoint categories that leverage the benefits of e-commerce, such as a wide array of products and ease of price comparison, while being less affected by its drawbacks, such as lengthy delivery times and high shipping costs relative to product value. Among these categories, the top five with the highest percentage of online purchasers are beauty and cosmetics (81%), apparel/clothing (78%), baby and childcare (71%), home improvement products (70%), and pet products (69%). This data underscores the attractiveness of these categories in the online marketplace, where consumers seek convenience and accessibility without compromising quality or variety. 

The relatively low overall-to-online purchase conversion rate of the food and beverages category (56%) suggests that online food deliveries and grocery shopping have yet to gain widespread adoption among Malaysians compared to other e-commerce categories. This could be attributed to the perceived high delivery costs relative to the product cost and the prevalent preference among Malaysians for dining in.  

Spending Patterns 

Our study shows how Malaysian consumers spend their money, reflecting the different things they value and need in their daily lives. From buying food and drinks to getting gadgets for fun and staying connected, each purchase tells us what consumers want and like. Understanding these spending patterns gives us valuable insights into current consumer trends. 

Malaysians allocate a substantial portion of their spending to food and beverages (RM301), meeting their needs for sustenance and nourishment. Consumer electronics follow closely behind, with an average monthly spend of RM201, catering to daily communication and entertainment needs. Similarly, home improvement products command a significant share, with an average monthly expenditure of RM199, aiding in household organisation and cleanliness.  

The third largest category encompasses health and wellness (RM175), personal care and hygiene products (RM172), and clothing (RM172). These items are essential for maintaining consumer well-being, hygiene, protection, and comfort. 

As we explore the remaining categories, we find beauty and cosmetics (RM150) catering to the needs of beauty enthusiasts, while baby and childcare (RM150) fulfil essential requirements for parents. Pet products (RM136), tobacco & alternatives (i.e.: vape, e-cigarettes) (RM128), stationery or office supplies (RM123), and alcoholic beverages (RM117) exhibit lower average monthly spending among category consumers. 

On average, Malaysians allocate RM286 per month to debt repayments, with a significant portion (43%) facing higher-than-average repayment burdens. 

Chart 5: Monthly Spend on Essential and Non-Essential Items

Online Shopping Preferences 

Malaysians have fully embraced online shopping since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this digital landscape, consumers hold diverse expectations and preferences across various categories. Our survey took a closer look at the most important factors considered when making a purchase online. 

When shopping online, Malaysians prioritise finding the best quality across certain product categories. This sentiment is especially pronounced for Mother & Baby products, with 47% of category buyers emphasising quality as the most important factor. This highlights Malaysians' need for safe and reliable products not only in the mother & baby category but also in electronics (43%), home & living appliances (43%), health & beauty items (42%), automotive goods (38%), and computers & accessories (42%). 

Interestingly, our study reveals that when it comes to online purchases for most of the categories, Malaysian consumers place a significant emphasis on "value for money." This factor takes precedence when shopping for toys, games, and hobbies (44%), groceries (38%), sports, and outdoor products (35%), as well as tickets and vouchers (43%).  

Our survey reveals intriguing insights into online fashion shopping preferences for both men's and women's clothing. Malaysian consumers prioritise "value for money" and "quality" above all else when making online purchases. Interestingly, among Malaysian consumers surveyed, our data reveals that only 14% consider brand reputation an important factor when purchasing men's clothing online, while a mere 11% prioritise brand reputation for women's clothing purchases. This suggests a notable trend in consumer behaviour, indicating a greater emphasis on price and quality assurance over brand reputation in the online fashion marketplace. 

Recognizing consumer preferences is crucial for businesses to effectively tailor their products and messaging, meet consumer demands, and enhance competitiveness in the online marketplace. 

Chart 2: Important Factors When Shopping For Products Online 

Discover insights on why people make purchases, how they decide, and explore consumer perspectives on value in 'Malaysian Consumer Sentiment Behaviour 2024: Online Habits & Attitude.' Join us as we reveal these insights, shedding light on evolving consumer habits

For more info on the product category level and demographic deep dive analysis, or if you want to know more about our proprietary OMTOS survey technology, please contact us in the form below or email us at contact@vodus.com.   


  1. Vodus proprietary OMTOS survey technology surveys Internet users across popular online platforms from Media Prima, Astro, The Star, and Sinar Harian Karangkraf.
  2. Vodus - Consumer Sentiment Study 2024 - Financial Situation.  

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